Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Cooking

'Godfather' cooking class at Ombra Ristorante

Chef Michael Young of Ombra, which is offering a 'Godfather'-inspired cooking class

On Sunday, Feb. 12, Ombra Ristorante is hosting a "Godfather"-inspired cooking class taught by executive chef Michael Young. This class is designed with couples in mind (possible Valentine's Day gift, because what says love like mob warfare?). Participants will prepare a four-course meal including braciole (a filled slice of meat braised in a tomato sauce), meatballs and Sunday sauce, mostaccioli (a baked pasta dish) and Sicilian cannoli. In addition, students will receive a recipe packet, wooden spoon and 1 pound of dried pasta to help them re-create these dishes at home.

The class is $99 per person, or $169 per couple. Space is limited and reservations can be made by calling (818) 985-7337. Hopeless romantics and 1970s mobster movie fans welcome. 3737 Cahuenga Blvd., Studio City, (818) 985-7337, www.ombrala.com.

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twitter.com/ LeahRodrigues24

Photo: Chef Michael Young of Ombra Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Farmshop to open artisan market Jan. 29

Farmshop 400Farmshop in the Brentwood Country Mart is welcoming a new addition to Jeff Cerciello's restaurant and bakery: a full-scale artisan market.

The market, comparable in size to the restaurant itself, boasts a deli, cheese and charcuterie counters, products such as Jessica Koslow's Sqirl preserves and seasonally inspired prepared foods. Also stocked on the market's shelves are California wines, craft beers and housewares from L.A. favorites including Heath ceramics.

Managing the floor is Emiliano Lee. With years of experience working as a cheese monger and manager (and even a "fresh foods wrangler" who sourced sustainably farmed produce) while working at Liberty Heights Fresh in Salt Lake City, Farmshop's new hire knows his cheese.

Lee, a Bay Area native, is thrilled to launch a market filled with foods crafted in California. The advocate brings farmstead American cheeses to Farmshop's cheese counter from Oregon and Vermont but mainly from California producers such as Bellwether Farms, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese, Cowgirl Creamery, Cypress Grove Chevre, Marin French Cheese, Franklin's Cheese, Vella Cheese, Laura Chenel's Chevre, Andante Dairy, Garden Variety Cheese and Bleating Heart.

With the market in place, Cerciello and team are working to add an educational component with dinners, tasting events, cooking demonstrations and book signings on the horizon.

The artisan market at Farmshop will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

225 26th St., Suite 25, Santa Monica, (310) 566-2400, farmshopla.com.

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Photo: Farmshop's artisan market. Credit: Spencer Lowell

Ludo sans subtitles: Roast chicken for bébés

In between pop-ups and television shows, Ludo Lefebvre has been busy making Ludo Baby Bites cooking videos for baby equipment maker Bugaboo (expect gratuitous stroller shots). Note that unlike his appearances on "Top Chef Masters" and "Ludo Bites America," there are no subtitles. But he's easy to follow, with recipes for meals for parents and little ones alike, such as mac 'n' goat cheese and grandma's roast chicken. 

You might have to listen a little more closely for his anecdotes, such as his description of Sunday after-church get-togethers with his family in France. "All the family are together and big lunch together and, of course, a lot of fights. That's for sure. It's unfortunate, when you have a big family, everybody's fighting. But it's great, you know, it's okay. It's part of the family. [Smile.]" Words to live by during the holidays?  

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Andrew Zimmern from 'Bizarre Foods' to stop by Royal/T in January

Andrew Zimmern On Jan. 13, Royal/T Cafe and Andrew Zimmern, the TV personality behind the Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods," will team up for a pop-up dinner themed "California Dreaming."

The pop-art-inspired exhibition space in Culver City is hosting the culinary event, which will reflect Zimmern's take on California cuisine while introducing Angelenos to innovative ideas and out-of-the-ordinary foods.

The five-course dinner menu will feature sea urchin and yellow-tomato-vegetable aspic; linguine; a veal tongue tartare and chile-braised lambs tongue quesadilla; a grilled Broken Arrow Ranch venison chop and a cioccolato orrare da gustare for dessert.

Tickets to the event are $150 per person and can be purchased online.
                      
8910 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 559-6300, royal-t.org.

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Christmas and New Year's Eve restaurant roundup

-- Caitlin Keller

Photo: Andrew Zimmern. Credit: Stuart Freedman / Travel Channel

Christmas and New Year's restaurant roundup

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Looking to celebrate Christmas and New Year's out on the town? Whether you're in the mood for caviar and truffles, prime rib, roasted leg of lamb, crab salad, sushi or a pizza party, several restaurants are here to help with the festivities: 

Bäco Mercat: The new downtown restaurant from chef Josef Centeno is celebrating Christmas Eve and New York's Eve with family-style dinners. On Christmas Eve, braised beef shank comes with a stack of bäco flatbreads, salad and sides for $75 and serves two to four people. On the New Year's Eve menu is suckling pig with bäco breads, salad and sides for $80 and serves two. Call for reservations. 408 S. Main St., Los Angeles, (213) 687-8808, www.bacomercat.com.

BOA Steakhouse: The Sunset Strip steakhouse will feature menu specials such as prime rib and whole branzino on Christmas Eve. For New Year’s Eve, the restaurant will have live entertainment with a DJ,four-course prix-fixe menu and two seatings: 6:30 ($95) and 9:30 p.m. ($165). The Santa Monica location offeres a “surf & turf” NYE menu ($75) including dishes such as pan-seared scallops with truffled foie gras risotto with a wild mushroom demi-glace, smoked chipotle, coffee-braised prime short ribs with snow crab cluster and strawberry honey biscuit shortcake with white chocolate cream. 9200 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 278-2050, 101 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 899-4466,  boasteak.com.

Border Grill: Celebrate New Year's Mexican style at Border Grill. For $55 per person, a four-course dinner includes spicy crab taco, smoked mussel ceviche tostadita, coriander-roasted leg of lamb and more. Optional margarita and wine pairings. The a la carte menu will also be available. 445 S. Figueroa St.,  Los Angeles, (213) 486-5171, and 1445 4th St., Santa Monica, (310) 451-1655; bordergrill.com.

Cafe del Rey: Ring in 2012 seaside at Café del Rey with a three-course prix-fixe menu centered on fresh seafood. Some menu highlights include lobster thermidor with brandy and hollandaise sauce, and Wagyu beef tartare with black currants and olives. Additional New Year’s Eve specials such as duck confit crostini and truffle risotto will also be available. The first seating begins at 5:30 ($65 per person), and the second at 8:30 p.m. ($95 per person, including a glass of sparkling wine). 4451 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey, (310) 823-6395, www.cafedelreymarina.com.

Cecconi's: Dinner at Cecconi's this New Year's Eve is a black-tie affair. The restaurant is serving an elegant four-course dinner at $235 per person. For the first course, diners can choose between cream of parsnip soup with white truffle, corn Madeleine with crème fraîche and caviar, or hamachi tartare in a plantain cone. The next courses range from smoked ahi tuna carpaccio with blood orange and wild fennel pollen to wood-roast spicy rock lobster, clams and saffron guazzetto. For dessert, chocolate fondant with coconut gelato, panettone delizia with warm Moscato zabaglione or torrone semifreddo with pistachio sauce.  Reservations are available for 8 p.m. and will secure your table for dinner and DJ until 2012. 8764 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (310) 432-2000, www.cecconiswesthollywood.com.

Chaya: Chaya's three restaurants -- in Beverly Hills, downtown L.A. and Venice -- are hosting themed New Year's Eve soirées that include "Midnight in Paris," "New York Nights" and "Mardi Gras Carnival." Each destination will feature prix-fixe menus, live entertainment and midnight toasts. In downtown L.A., experience New York with live jazz and Chaya's signature Euro-Asian cuisine with a "bonsai box" of big-eye tuna sushi, Kumamoto oyster and sea urchin shooter and a Moroccan-spiced maple leaf duck salad. 525 S. Flower St., L.A., (213) 236-9577, thechaya.com.

City Tavern: This craft beer bar in Culver City will be hosting “Brew Year's Eve.” From 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., patrons can drink unlimited beer, wine and Champagne for $68 per person. A reduced price of $56 is extended to guests with a dinner reservation. In addition, booths accommodating six to eight people can be reserved for $100 per person. 9739 Culver Blvd., Culver City, (310) 838-9739, www.citytavernculvercity.com.

Drago Centro: On Christmas Eve, Drago Centro is celebrating with the feast of seven fishes. The seven- course menu is $70 per person with optional wine pairings for an additional $40. Dishes include Blue Point oyster with red currant pearls, crab salad with fennel and pomegranate seeds, Maine lobster cappuccino and more. 525 S. Flower St., Suite 120, Los Angeles, www.dragocentro.com.

Fig and Olive: New Year's Eve dinner is meant to evoke the French Riviera with Fig and Olive’s four-course prix-fixe menu at $150 per person. Each guest will be greeted with a complimentary glass of Moët & Chandon Champagne and a set of white and gold party favors to celebrate the New Year. Diners can savor grilled langoustine de San Sebastian with artichoke tapenade and smoked pimentón olive oil and fig foie gras terrine with pear chutney and Pedro Ximenez reduction. After dinner, dance in the restaurant until 2 a.m. with DJ Julien Nolan. 8490 Melrose Place, West Hollywood, (310) 360-9100, figandolive.com.

Jar: Executive chef Suzanne Tracht will be serving up her signature dishes as well as some New Year's Eve specials at Jar. The a la carte menu will include truffled celery root soup with braised celery hearts, oxtail consommé with oxtail pumpkin dumplings, and gnocchi with chanterelles and lobster. In addition, guests will be given party favors to celebrate the coming of 2012. 8225 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 655-6566, www.thejar.com

Locanda Del Lago: On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, chef Gianfranco Minuz is cooking a meal showcasing Italian winter ingredients. Diners can choose between a $55 three-course menu or a $68 four-course menu.  Diners can add optional wine pairings ($25) and a seasonal dessert ($11). The holiday menu includes Scottish salmon marinated with pomegranate and spiced wine reduction, capon chicken tortellini with chicken consommé and Grana Padano, and roasted veal tenderloin with morel mushroom and chestnut sauce. On New Year’s Eve, the restaurant will be offering a five-course prix-fixe menu for $89 per person or $139 per person, which includes endless Pommery Champagne. There will be a live DJ and dancing. Overnight parking is available to diners for $15 (with next-day pickup from 5 to 10 p.m.). 231 Arizona Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 451-3525, lagosantamonica.com.

Lucques: This New Year's Eve at Lucques, diners will be transported to the canals of Venice with a meal inspired by the famous Harry's Bar. The five-course prix-fixe menu is $110 for the first seating and $150 for the second seating. The menu includes a Venetian antipasto of grisini with prosciutto di Parma, fagioli and winter squash in saor, fried artichokes in bagna cauda and burrata with pesto. Following the antipasto will be warm scallop and squid salad, tagliolini with lobster and herb-roasted rack of lamb with radicchio risotto. To end the feast, torta di zabaglione for dessert. 

 8474 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 655-6277, lucques.com.

Marino's: A classic Italian restaurant, Marino's is serving up the traditional southern Italian feast of seven fishes family-style. The four-course meal is $60 per person, including dishes such as spaghetti with baby clams, cod cakes and poached branzino. For dessertguests can enjoy ricotta cheescake, panettone souffle or roasted chestnuts. 6001 Melrose Ave, Hollywood, (323) 466-8812, www.marinorestaurant.net

Mélisse: Michelin-starred chef Josiah Citrin is preparing a five-course Christmas Eve menu priced at $150 per guest. Options include seared foie gras and glazed pear; smoked salmon "pavé" with potato, green apple, caviar and sauce gribiche; Maine lobster and scallop “pot au feu”; or prime filet of beef with bulb onions. Guests will have a choice of fig and apple tart or a Valhrona chocolate crunch cake for dessert. Mélisse's New Year's Eve dinner has two options: an early seating beginning at 5:30 with a four-course menu ($140) or a late seating at 8:30 p.m. for six courses ($250). Highlights of the menu include the restaurant's signature caviar with poached egg and lemon crème fraîche, lemon-crusted Dover sole and olive-crusted lamb. Reservations are advised. 1104 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 385-0881, melisse.com.

Mozza's Scuola di Pizza: Nancy Silverton's Scuola di Pizza at Mozza offers Saturday night family-style dinners, and Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve are no exception. Christmas Eve is the annual feast of seven fishes for $75 at 7 p.m. And on New Year's Eve, a multi-course dinner celebrating truffle season will be served with wines for $250 per person at 8 p.m. Seating is limited. Call the event line at (323) 297-1133. 6602 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, www.mozza-la.com. 

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Common Grains: Japanese food and culture 101 coming to L.A.

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When it comes to finding Japanese food in Los Angeles, one doesn't have to look very far. Whether served up traditionally or fusion-style, the city's multitude of udon, soba, sushi and ramen joints seem limitless. We love our Japanese food here in L.A., that's for certain, but how much do we actually know about it?

To give Angelenos a better of understanding of Japanese cuisine and culture, artisan soba maker and Japanese food expert Sonoko Sakai has collaborated with Shinmei to present Common Grains, a series of culinary events that will take place in Los Angeles.

Throughout the months of January and February, milling demonstrations, panel discussions, film screenings and rice and soba workshops will take place all over town to engage and immerse Angelenos in Japanese food culture.

The event will kick off on January 8 with an onigiri creation contest at the Japanese American National Museum’s annual Oshogatsu festival and will follow with various events like the soba and rice workshops at Tortoise General Store on January 21 and 22 and Japanese films focused on none other than rice at Atwater Crossing on February 3 and 4. Also, on January 10-19, Breadbar Century City will host a pop-up and sake bar and soba restaurant featuring freshly stoned and milled handcrafted soba.

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Photo: Ramen at Ramen Yamada in Torrance. Credit: Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times

5 Questions for Tara Maxey

Tara Maxey 600

Tara Maxey is co-owner of Heirloom LA, a catering company that specializes in fresh pasta and local ingredients. The former wardrobe stylist studied pastry under Suzanne Griswold of Spago and also worked with Cake Monkey Bakery's Elizabeth Belkind. Since opening in 2009, the catering company has wowed Angelenos with its "lasagna cupcakes," added a food truck to its repertoire and is now in the process of opening a tasting room in Eagle Rock.

What’s coming next on your menu? Our holiday menu! Every Monday my dad sets out for McGrath Family Farms in Camarillo to pick up any of their overages. This year they provided us with roughly 8,000 pounds of strawberries, which forced us to come up with a lot of flavor combinations for jam (my favorite: lavender and rosemary), as well as learn how to utilize a dehydrator (strawberry dust maintains its color and flavor). Now we're getting in a gorgeous array of pumpkins and squash that boldly point out the season and possess arresting shapes and stunning hues and flavors that you would never find in corporate agriculture. We're classically pairing these organic beauties with brown butter and sage or vanilla and using them for fillings in our lasagna cupcakes, agnolotti and shepherd’s pies ... and cocktails!

Latest ingredient obsession? Bitters because they scare me. We've been making a lot of cocktails for ourselves over here at Heirloom, something we like to call "research and development," and it occurred to me that bitters, like most extracts used in baking, taste corrosive on their own but have the power to really bring out a different layer to what they are teamed up with provided they are applied well. I'm certain I am not the first person to think about using bitters in baking, but it's a new frontier to me so I am currently obsessed with figuring them out and making them in house.

What restaurant do you find yourself going to again and again? D.J. Olsen prepares a Monday Supper at Lou, executing a three-course chef's tasting menu that is intensely farmers market driven and never disappoints. He finds so much joy in his job and you can taste it. I'd love to say that's where you'll find us each week, but our food truck is at Silverlake Wine on Mondays so it's tough to get away. We do, however, run into D.J. every Wednesday at the Santa Monica farmers market, which is always so inspiring because he rolls with this janky cart full of broken boxes piled on top of one another making you wonder what is up with this guy but on closer inspection you see that he’s accumulated the most coveted produce of the market, which tempts me, every time, to swashbuckle him down to the ground so I can steal his lot, but he’s just so nice, I could never.

What’s your favorite breakfast? A strong yet nuanced cup of joe with a few nibbles of several buttery pastries prepared with superb ingredients and a light hand. Right now, Proof Bakery in Atwater Village is fitting that tall order.

The last cookbook you read – and what inspired you to pick it up? Due to a resume void of culinary school I have amassed an unreasonable amount of cookbooks to quiet any throbbing insecurities that may bubble up and obstruct my to-do list for the day. My favorite is Claudia Fleming's "The Last Course" even though I don’t have this one. It's out of print and out of my budget but I’ve managed to Xerox certain pages of it, most notably her macaroon recipe, which is unrivaled. Santa, I’d like the hard copy.

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Photo credit: George Simian

Gifts for the analog cook: Letterpress recipe cards, box and binder

The letterpress business 1canoe2 makes some appealing gifts for cooks who haven't yet entered the digital age or for those who prefer analog when it comes to their kitchens. Everything is printed on an old Chandler & Price letterpress in a big red barn in mid-Missouri.

Some people like recipe boxes. Others prefer to keep recipes in binders. 1canoe2 has letterpress versions for both kinds of cooks.

Recipes_boxA letterpress recipe card binder kit ($46) includes a 10-by-7-inch binder in heavy chipboard, eight tab dividers and 40 blank recipe cards. The cover is printed in four colors and inside covers note useful shortcuts and substitutions.

Letterpress recipe cards and box ($46) includes a handmade wooden box and 42 letterpress recipe cards printed in six colors, plus seven divider tabs. Packs of extra cards are $15. If you already have the box, you can buy additional cards and dividers ($29).

Check this out: For three days (Nov. 26-28) 1canoe2 is offering a 20% discount and free shipping via the blog Poppytalk. Enter the code "CanoeHeartsPoppy" at checkout for the discount and "PoppyFreeShip" for the free shipping.

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Photos: Recipe box and cards. Credit: 1canoe2

 

No grief: This advanced peeler masters gnarly root vegetables

KYOCERA (1 of 1)I’ve noticed this Kyocera peeler in cookware stores before, and each time thought, no. I don’t really need this. But my little ceramic blade paring knife they make has become such a useful tool, I finally succumbed.

Not only is the blade of Kyocera’s Perfect Peeler super-sharp and thin, the head swivels and can be locked into vertical, horizontal or 45-degree positions, the better to peel that carrot or knobbly sunchoke. 

With this, peeling those spuds and gnarly root vegetables for Thanksgiving should be a cinch. It’s high-tech, like driving a race car compared with the usual dull potato peeler.

Kyocera CP-20 Perfect Peeler, $17.95. Available at Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma  and online retailers, and from Kyocera at (800) 537-0294.

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-- S. Irene Virbila
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Photos: Kyocera Perfect Peeler. Credit: S. Irene Virbila/Los Angeles Times.

 

Making spätzle, those tender squiggly noodles

Spatzle1 (1 of 1)This weekend I was testing some recipes from New York chef Kurt Gutenbrunner's "Neue Cuisine: The Elegant Tastes of Vienna" and wanted to make the quark spätzle. 

First order of business: finding the spätzle maker Madame Zind-Humbrecht had given me years ago after a lunch she'd cooked at her renowned wine estate in Alsace. (Today the estate is run by her son Olivier.) I remember she'd poached an entire goose foie gras in a French canning jar--amazingly lush and silky. And that she made spätzle, the most tender squiggly egg noodles imaginable. When I asked her where I could buy a spätzle maker in Strasbourg, she gave me hers.

After rooting around in boxes and cupboards, I finally found it. How can you not love that red wooden knob on the crank?

Second order of business: finding quark, the tangy fresh cheese. I knew I'd seen it once at the Hollywood farmers market and I found a woman who sells it, but she was sold out of the plain. Had I seen some at Whole Foods? I couldn’t remember, but I made a quick detour and found it in the refrigerated case next to the crème fraiche.

Spätzle are about the simplest pasta you can make. Basically, you make a batter of flour, eggs and quark and/or cream and then pass the dough through the holes into a pot of boiling water. The beautiful thing is that they can be made ahead of time, and simply sautéed in butter before serving.

The recipe (adapted from Gutenbrunner's new book "Neue Cuisine") is easy as can be: 

Whisk 2 cups flour with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg. Add 2 large eggs, lightly beaten, 1 cup quark, and 1/3 cup cream. Beat until smooth. Working in batches, press the dough through a spätzle maker into a pot of boiling salted water. 

Cook until the noodles float to the surface, 2 to 3 minutes. With a fine sieve, transfer spätzle to a bowl of ice water for a few minutes, then drain in a colander. When ready to serve, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet, and cook until lightly browned. Add salt and pepper and sprinkle chopped herbs--parsley, basil, chervil, tarragon--over the top.

As for the spätzle maker, I couldn’t find one that resembled Madame Zind-Humbrecht’s. But I did find one (entirely different concept) made by Norpro and sold at many cookware stores and online cookware dealers for around $10.

Or if push comes to shove, you can simply use a colander with large holes and push the batter through with a rubber spatula.

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-- S. Irene Virbila
Twitter.com/sirenevirbila

Photo: Traditional spätzle maker. Credit: S. Irene Virbila / Los Angeles Times

 

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